Pitching Matchups: MLB Picks & Predictions for the Week Ahead

Doug Upstone

Sunday, May 17, 2015 6:14 PM GMT

We begin another week of going after the MLB odds from the sportsbooks by taking a peak at some the more entertaining pitching matchups of the next few days and what kind of form each could supply.

In addition, we will take a look at one group of relief pitchers and how they are positively or negatively impacted their teams up to this point of the season. While we do not know what the betting odds will be at places like GTBets.eu, this should not stop us from speculating.

Note – All pitchers are projected starters and subject to change, so before locking in your MLB picks check on their status.

 

Monday – Corey Kluber vs. Chris Sale
With Memorial Day approaching, Cleveland and Chicago occupy the last two spots in the AL Central. As they begin this important four-game series in the Windy City, each has their ace going in hopes of a good beginning. Kluber is only 1-5 with a 4.27 ERA but he is off a masterful performance, pitching one hit ball, striking out 18 St. Louis hitters and not walking one. He still has yet to win on the road in four tries and has a 5.00 ERA away from Lake Erie.

After a couple choppy outings, Sale (3-1, 5.09 ERA) held Milwaukee to two runs on three hits over eight innings, punching out 11 in a 4-2 victory. Sale’s teammates have the difficult task of flying home from the West Coast with no days off which is often a prime play against situation for MLB baseball handicappers. However, the Indians are only 4-9 versus left-handed starters and will be underdogs.

 

Tuesday – Michael Wacha vs. Jon Niese
It is Game 2 in the series between two of the National League division leaders. Wacha has been perfect at 5-0 (2.06 ERA) and St. Louis has won all seven of his starts for +7.25 units. The right-hander’s strikeouts are down but not his effectiveness and the Cardinals are 3-0 OVER in night games.

This is not the first time in Niese’s career where his stats look better than this record. Niese is 3-3 (Mets 3-4) with a sharp 2.49 ERA. In three Citi Field starts his ERA is a minuscule 1.35 and has a 1.95 earned run average after dark. The Redbirds are just 4-5 versus lefty pitchers his season.

 

Wednesday – Jered Weaver vs. R.A. Dickey
If you were making MLB picks, it had to cross your mind that Weaver might be washed up after starting 0-4 with a 6.29 ERA and a fastball clocked consistently lower than a Texas super highway speed limit (85 MPH). But like those commercials from 10-15 years ago about –The Clapper – Weaver has abruptly turned around, allowing one run on nine hits over 16 innings, both victories and dropping his ERA to 4.44.

Veteran knuckleballer Dickey is not commanding his unique pitch and is 1-5 with a 5.76 ERA (Blue Jays 2-6). His floater has right-hand hitters batting .287 on his tosses and he’s already been taken over the fence nine times. Dickey has been better at home with a 4.33 ERA, but with a few of the sluggers the Angels have, Dickey cannot make miscues.

 

Thursday – Clayton Kershaw vs. Madison Bumgarner
This will already be the third meeting between two of the best pitchers in the game. Kershaw (2-2, 4.24) for the first time in his career is not a dominant force and has only pitched into the eighth inning once in eight outings. The tale is pitch placement with opposing hitters batting .251 compared to .210 for his career.

Bumgarner (4-2, 3.20) and San Francisco have beaten Kershaw twice this season with a pair of one run winners. To this point he’s shown few if any affects of the extra postseason innings and is regarded as a big game stud. We will see what the money line is later in the week, but for sports picks, Bumgarner and the Giants are 4-1 as favorites in MLB betting odds.

 

Bullpen of the Week
You can break down Houston’s unbelievable start in many fashions, but one that might be the most important is the turnaround of their bullpen. The Astros are second in the majors in pen ERA at 2.18. What this contingent does is limit chances and overpower the opposition by ranking first in fewest walks allowed and being third in strikeouts. They also are tops in on-base percentage surrendered. Whether it is Luke Gregorson or Chad Qualls saving games or Tony Sipp and Pat Neshak piling up the holds, Houston’s sudden revival has much to do with the results the bullpen is delivering.